Months ago a friend of mine and PDA colleague asked me if I could make her a porridge bowl, and of course I said yes. But it had to be made of birch. For her the tree has magical qualities, and I respect that.
The problem was that, although I had some birchwood in my store it was spalted, and really not suitable for porridge bowls. And I had pear, and lime, and chestnut all of which would have been suitable for porridge, but they were not birch.
I shared this dilemma with Christian, who is a superlative woodman and can fell a big tree onto a spot no bigger than half a crown. Ah. he said, only two weeks ago I felled a big birch for a neighbouring farmer who is only going to burn it. Tell me what you want and I'm sure I can get it.
I did, and he did.
In fact he brought me more than I need and I turned half a dozen bowls of various sizes, including one that was porridge sized.
The wood was green, and I left it to dry out, until this week week when I knew I would be seeing my porridge bowl friend again. It finished it off and was well pleased. I made the inside really smooth, but left the outside a bit rough for contrast. The drying out had warped the outside to an oval, but I re-turned the inside so the wall thickness changed as you went round the edge. I finished it with oil, knowing it will darken slightly with age and use. And this is what it looked like.
I took it to her today, and she was delighted. And tickled that underneath I had written 'for Sarah'. But she said, 'Can you make one for my partner, for his birthday?' Of course I said yes. But getting back home and looking at my wood store I'm back where I was months ago. Plenty of appropriate wood, but it's not birch. I hope Christian can come to the rescue again!